Proposed Banner Supply Chinese Drywall Settlement A Good Deal, Attorney Says

An attorney in the <"">Chinese drywall litigation is urging clients to sign on to a settlement with Banner Supply that might only net each homeowner $4,000 after attorneys’ fees. That’s because the deal is probably the best they can expect from the Florida-based supplier. What’s more, it only applies to Banner, and claimants could still receive more money from future Chinese drywall settlements with other defendants.

Banner Supply’s settlement has been granted preliminary approval by the judge overseeing the massive Chinese drywall litigation in federal court in New Orleans. Banner asserted in court documents that it was not responsible for the tainted drywall, but merely distributed the material, which it obtained from Knauf Group.

The $4,000 figure is based on $61 million available from Banner’s insurers, plus the supply company’s assertion that it sold some 1.4 million boards of tainted drywall to builders in Florida. Between 7,000 and 9,000 Florida homes could have been outfitted with that much drywall, and all would be eligible for the settlement.

While many claimants are likely to be disappointed with their Banner settlement, Jordan Chaikin, a partner with the national law firm of Parker Waichman Alonso LLP told that it would be difficult to get more from the company.

“Banner Supply is not a company with a lot of assets,” Chaikin said. “Going after them for any assets is going to be an extended battle. Any judgment may only be worth the paper it’s printed on.”

Chaikin’s firm, Parker Waichman Alonso LLP has an office in Bonita Springs, and represents around 1,000 drywall clients. He could not say, however, how many involved homes with Banner drywall.

Chinese drywall was widely imported into the U.S between 2004 and 2006 during the housing boom. It is estimated that between 60,000 – 100,000 homes were built using defective material. Since late 2008, the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) has received more than 3,800 reports from residents in 42 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico regarding defective Chinese drywall. Sulfurous gases emitted from Chinese drywall are being blamed for significant property damage, including damage to HVAC systems, smoke detectors, electrical wiring, metal plumbing components, and other household appliances. Some people living with the wallboard have also complained of health problems.

As we’ve reported previously, the Banner settlement is just the latest Chinese drywall settlement to be announced in the past year. Last fall, Knauf Plasterboard Tianjin Co., a division of Knauf Group, agreed to participate in a pilot remediation program by which 300 homes in four states would be repaired. It is hoped that the program will pave the way for a settlement of all claims against Knauf.

In April, Interior/Exterior Building Supply L.P., a New Orleans-based construction supply company, agreed to pay $8 million in cash and assign $72 million in insurance rights to settle roughly 1,500 claims.

Settlements reached thus far cover just a portion of the more than 10,000 claims currently pending in the Chinese drywall multidistrict litigation in New Orleans. However, it is expected that more settlements will be reached with other defendants in the coming months.

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